With the rapid spread of the Ebola virus disease in the country, especially in Montserrado County, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor on Wednesday, August 20, ordered judges and magistrates to avoid issuing arrest warrants, which require bringing alleged criminals into police custody.
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor was quick to point out that only those accused of committing unabailable offenses such as armed robbery, murder and rape should be served summons when the need arises.
An arrest warrant is a document that calls for someone to be taken into police custody. It is also an official order from the state calling for the accused to be held to answer for a specific crime.
Chief Justice Korkpor gave the order on Wednesday, when he met with judges, magistrates and senior judicial actors at the Temple of Justice.
He urged judges and other judicial workers, however, not to leave the country, unless extreme circumstances, when authorized by the Supreme Court. Judges who do not go to work will be considered to have abandoned their jobs, Chief Justice Korkpor announced.
Commenting on the preventive measure being taken by the judiciary, the Chief Justice said, “We have taken Ebola precautionary measures including the reduction in the number of jurors and jury trials, as well as the fast tracking of bailable offences involving pre-trial detainees,” he added. “We have also taken measures to control the visitation of non-party litigants to courts across the country.”
Making reference to the State of Emergency, the Chief Justice clarified that it does not suspend the righ of habeas corpus, a constitutional provision that protects Liberian and foreign residents from being detained.